The 162-game marathon that is the baseball regular season is coming to a close on Sunday and the American League wild card is not at all decided yet. Entering Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Rays held a half-game lead over the Cleveland Indians for the second wild card spot. In addition, the Oakland Athletics hold a half-game lead over the Rays for the first spot.
It might result in a tiebreaker or two to sort out the playoff picture. Our own Dayn Perry has you covered with everything you need to know about the tiebreaker procedures heading into Game 162.
Over the years, there have been quite a few playoff races that needed more than 162 games to determine a winner.
Before 1969, when two or more teams were tied for a playoff spot at the conclusion of the regular season, a three-game series was used to decide who would move into the postseason. It happened in the 1962 season, when the San Francisco Giants defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers in a three-game set.
But since 1969, the format has changed to a one-game playoff. As we prepare for the possibility of another one, here's a look at all the Game 163s that have taken place over the years.
Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees, 1978
- How it happened: The Yankees were in fourth place and 14 games behind the Red Sox on July 19. By the final day of the season, they held a one-game lead over Boston. However, New York lost 9-2 to the Cleveland Indians while Boston beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-0 to force the tiebreaker to decide the AL East. In the Game 163 matchup, the Yankees took a 3-2 lead in the 7th inning courtesy of the infamous three-run home run from Bucky Dent.
- Result of Game 163: Yankees 5, Red Sox 4
- How the Yankees' season ended: Beat Dodgers, 4-2, in World Series
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Houston Astros, 1980
- How it happened: Heading into their final series of the regular season, the Astros held a three-game lead in the NL West. However, the Dodgers swept them in the three-game set. That forced a tiebreaker, in which the Astros put the gloomy series behind them. Joe Niekro pitched a complete game for Houston and surrendered just one run on six hits.
- Result of Game 163: Astros 7, Dodgers 1
- How the Astros' season ended: Lost to Phillies, 3-2, in NLCS
Seattle Mariners vs. California Angels, 1995
- How it happened: The Angels had a commanding 13-game lead over the third place Mariners on Aug. 3 and looked to be in the driver's seat for a playoff spot. However, the Angels went on a six-game losing skid and left the door open for the Texas Rangers and Mariners entering September with their lead down to 7.5 games. The Mariners ended up putting together a seven-game winning streak and were able to clinch a tie in a series against the Rangers to qualify for a tiebreaker to decide the AL west with the Angels. In that game, Randy Johnson looked dominant, going nine innings and giving up just one run on three hits and striking out 12 batters.
- Result of Game 163: Mariners 9, Angels 1
- How the Mariners' season ended: Lost to Indians, 4-2, in ALCS
Chicago Cubs vs. San Francisco Giants, 1998
- How it happened: Both teams finished with 89-73 records after keeping up with each other in the final days of the regular season. The Cubs and Giants were tied with the Mets in late September for the NL Wild Card, but the Mets fell out of the race as they dropped their final five games to close out the season. In the Game 163, the Cubs and Giants were scoreless until the middle innings when Gary Gaetti hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning to put Chicago ahead. In the sixth inning, Matt Mieske stroked a two-run single that scored Lance Johnson and Sammy Sosa to extend the lead to 4-0. The Giants scored all three of their runs in the ninth inning before falling short.
- Result of Game 163: Cubs 5, Giants 3
- How the Cubs' season ended: Lost to Braves, 3-0, in NLDS
Cincinnati Reds vs. New York Mets, 1999
- How it happened: After falling short of a NL wild card berth during the 1998 season, the Mets found themselves in familiar territory as they faced off against the Reds for the same distinction. The Mets looked like they were going to secure the NL East crown, but an eight-game losing streak in September allowed the Braves to win the division. New York was able to sweep the Pittsburgh Pirates in the final series to reach the tiebreaker. In this contest, the Mets got out of the gate strong with a two-run home run from Edgardo Alfonzo in the first inning. In the third, Reds reliever Denny Neagle walked Robin Ventura with the bases loaded to make it a 3-0 game. Rickey Henderson added a solo home run in the fifth inning to give the Mets a 5-0 lead and ultimately the victory.
- Result of Game 163: Mets 5, Reds 0
- How the Mets' season ended: Lost to Braves, 4-2, in NLCS
Colorado Rockies vs. San Diego Padres, 2007
- How it happened: The Rockies were absolutely on fire in the second half of the season as they accumulated a 46-29 mark. As if that wasn't impressive enough, Colorado came roaring back as the team won 13 of its final 14 games to force a one-game playoff to determine who would represent the National League as a wild card team. The Rockies trailed 8-6 entering the bottom of the 13th inning, but were able to tie the game courtesy of a RBI triple from Matt Holliday. After Todd Helton was intentionally walked, Jamey Carroll hit a shallow fly ball, which Holliday elected to tag up on and ultimately slid in safely to score the game-winning run. To this day, there's controversy surrounding that play as to whether Holliday ever touched home plate.
- Result of Game 163: Rockies 9, Padres 8
- How the Rockies' season ended: Swept by Red Sox in World Series
Chicago White Sox vs. Minnesota Twins, 2008
- How it happened: The White Sox spent the majority of the season in first place or within reach of it. The Twins ended up holding a half-game lead when the regular season was all said and done, but the White Sox had a makeup game to play against the Detroit Tigers. Chicago beat Detroit and forced a Game 163. The tiebreaker ended up being the lowest scoring Game 163 in history as Jim Thome hit a solo home run to give the White Sox the playoff berth.
- Result of Game 163: White Sox 1, Twins 0
- How the White Sox' season ended: Lost to Rays, 3-1, in ALDS
Minnesota Twins vs. Detroit Tigers, 2009
- How it happened: Entering the final weekend of the regular season, the Tigers held a two-game lead over the Twins. However, the Tigers dropped two games in a three-game set to the White Sox while the Twins swept the Kansas City Royals to force the one-game playoff for the AL Central. It marked the second consecutive season that the Twins were involved in a Game 163 scenario. The game was tied in the 12th inning when Alexi Casilla plated Carlos Gomez on an RBI single to win the game.
- Result of Game 163: Twins 6, Tigers 5
- How the Twins' season ended: Lost to Yankees, 3-0, in ALDS
Texas Rangers vs. Tampa Bay Rays, 2013
- How it happened: With two wild card spots up for grabs in the American League, the Indians, Rangers and Rays were all in the mix. However, the Indians were hot late in the season as they won their final 10 games to clinch the top wild card spot. That left the Rangers and Rays to do battle for the second playoff spot after both teams won eight of their final 10 games. In this game, Wil Myers walked and later scored on a Delmon Young sacrifice fly in the opening inning. In the third, Evan Longoria smoked a two-run home run to give the Rays a 3-0 advantage. In the bottom half of the inning, Craig Gentry singled and later scored on an Ian Kinsler RBI single to cut the deficit to 3-1. However, the Rays didn't need a ton of offense with the way David Price was pitching. He went the distance and surrendered seven hits and a pair of runs while striking out four Rangers.
- Result of Game 163: Rays 5, Rangers 2
- How the Rays' season ended: Lost to Red Sox, 3-1, in ALDS
Chicago Cubs vs. Milwaukee Brewers, 2018
- How it happened: Both teams had phenomenal seasons in 2018 and finished with 95-67 records when the regular season wrapped up. Because of that, one team would go on to the NLDS while the other would be forced in play in the do-or-die Wild Card Game. Christian Yelich gave the Brewers a 1-0 lead on an RBI single, but Anthony Rizzo answered with a solo home run. The game stayed tied until the eighth inning when Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun recorded RBI singles of their own to give the Brewers the NL Central crown.
- Result of Game 163: Brewers 3, Cubs 1
- How the Brewers' season ended: Lost to Dodgers, 4-3, in NLCS
Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Colorado Rockies, 2018
- How it happened: The Dodgers and Rockies both finished the 2018 season with a 91-71 record and needed a tiebreaker to determine the NL West winner. The Rockies won six of their final seven games to force Game 163. The game was never really in doubt for Los Angeles as the Dodgers jumped out to a 5-0 lead courtesy of a pair of two-run home runs from Cody Bellinger and Max Muncy. Walker Buehler only surrendered one hit in 6 2/3 shutout innings to keep the Rockies at bay.
- Result of Game 163: Dodgers 5, Rockies 2
- How the Dodgers' season ended: Lost to Red Sox, 4-1, in World Series